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Statement from Council Leader Val Keitch as SSDC recognises climate and ecological emergency

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Full statement from Val Keitch as South Somerset District Council considered a Motion to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency. it was made at a meeting of SSDC’s Full Council and the motion was approved unanimously, receiving cross-party support:

"Climate change and the degradation of the planet’s ecology is an emergency. It is an emergency for the planet and the communities we serve.

"It is a threat to us and to future generations and as a responsible council we should do all we can to deal with it and prevent a global temperature rise above 1.5 degrees based on pre-industrial temperatures.

"Of course, as a council we cannot solve the world’s problems on our own. Indeed, even if every council were to do all it can on this, it will still not be enough to deal with a global problem.

"However, that we cannot fix it on our own is not a reason for inaction. In fact, the opposite applies. As a responsible Council which looks after the well being of its communities it is our duty to act, to show leadership to our communities and to others. And to do all we can to deal with this emergency. This includes working with others such as the other councils in Somerset.

READ MORE: South Somerset declares its recognition of a climate and ecological emergency

"When future generations look back at how we responded to this crisis we want them to be proud of what we have done and to know that we cared not just for the current generation but for them as well.

"The time is now right to invest in tackling climate change and protecting the environment that our communities value and need. Whilst a lot of what is needed to deal with climate change requires us to change our policies and the way we do things, we need to recognise that additional resources are required if we are to be ambitious and successful. To this end, myself and Peter Seib, the portfolio holder for finance, will be working with our senior leadership team to identify the additional resources to deliver on the commitment we made tonight.

"In identifying and committing additional resources, it is important that we ensure they are well spent and invested in those things that have the biggest impact. Therefore, I welcome that we have proposed the first step is to develop a strategy.

"The success of the Council over recent years in transformation, commercialisation, financial stability and regeneration has been delivered by having good, well thought through strategies and by prioritising the most important things rather than trying to do everything.

"A strategy for us is not about a lot of words that then gather dust on a shelf. Instead, a strategy for us is something that is developed by bringing us together to agree what our ambition is and what we are going to deliver; agreeing how best to go about delivering the outcomes we want for our communities; and then agreeing and directing the people and financial resources we need to ensure we are successful.

"I commit to do all I can as leader of the council to ensure we develop a bold, ambitious and sound strategy to deal with this global emergency and to tackle climate change, and, most importantly, ensure we deliver on that ambitious strategy for the benefit of the communities we serve."

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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